Count Down to August: Nigeria Major Festivals

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The approach of a festival celebration in Africa can be liken to the coming of the bridegroom. It is a way of commemorating and celebrating African rich cultural heritage while strengthening the sense of belonging and community. The month of August is around the corner. Preparations for four major Nigerian festivals are on top gear. All hands are on deck and the clouds are gathering for these events.

Ojude Oba Festival

This is an annual cultural celebration for the Ijebus, located in Ogun State. It holds three days from Eid el Kabir (Muslim) celebration. History has it that the festival was originally an Islamic festival, where a small number of Islamic devotees paid homage to the ruling monarch “Awujale” for his magnanimity. In 1982, the reigning monarch was said to have presented a gift of landed properties to the Muslims to build a Mosque. So, Ojude Oba was organized in response to this. It has however transcended time and space. Today, over 250,000 Nigerians, especially Ijebus home and abroad attend the festival. The carnival-like one-day event features dance parade by different age groups among others. The dance has a general connotative meaning. It is a way of renewing their loyalties to the king. What more, lots of eating and drinking, with more than a thousand cow going to the slaughter.

Osun Oshogbo Festival

Osun Oshogbo festival is a two-week long festival that holds annually in Osun State, Nigeria. Born out of the yearly sacrifice to a river goddess who is believed to protect the entire clan, the festival has since turned into a tourist attraction event. It holds at the eminent sacred Osun Grove, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005. The festival features about four different rituals activities. They are the Iwopopo ritual, Ina Olujumerindinlogun ritual, Iboriade ritual, and Arugba ritual. The first cleanse the clan from evil. In the second, a 16-point lamp believed to be 600 years old is lighted. For the third, past crown kings are blessed by special squad (ruling monarch, Osun priestess, and “Arugba. The last ritual involves the carrying of the holy calabash containing sacrificial materials around the town. A chosen virgin carries this on her head and leads the procession to the river bank.

New Yam Festival

This is for the Igbo community in the Eastern part of the country. It celebrates the gods for good farm harvest. The festival is deeply rooted in the rural Igbo society where yam is the yard stick for wealth measurement. It also proclaims the harvest sessions yearly. Typically, Igbos do not eat new yam until the festival which is a sign of consumption approval. The festival opens with the offering of yams to the gods. Thereafter, the chiefs roast whole yams publicly and share with the community. That is when members of the community can begin consuming new yam without incurring the gods’ wraths. It features dances, performances, masquerades, designs and clothes parades. Today, the festival is an opportunity for Igbo sons and daughters home and abroad to assemble in their villages to renew their commitment to community development.

Durbar Festival

The northerners celebrate this annual festival at the zenith of Muslim festivals Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. It was first introduced in Hausa land in the 14th century by sarki Muhammadu Rumfa of Kano as a validating his military skills before going to war. It has since them morphed into a festival that gives faithful followers to honor the king (Emir).

It begins with the Muslim prayers, followed by a parade of the Emir and his supporters on horses through the town. Music players accompany this entourage and all the way to the palace. Durbar festivals are organised in ancient cities like Kano, Katsina and Bida. It provides opportunity for sons and daughters of the land to come home. Over the years, these festivals have attracted tourists who are particularly interested in learning about African cultural. This summer provides opportunity to visit Nigeria and have firsthand experience with these festivals. You won’t want to be told what you missed.

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